SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A local newspaper fighting to stay afloat is having to make tough decisions to stay in business.
The Christian County Headliner has been in existence since 1888 and has headquartered in Downtown Ozark for the last 15 years.
Paper Editor Rance Burger says even having a physical office is no longer feasible.
“We were struggling quite honestly, well before the first documented case of COVID-19 happened here in Christian County,” said Burger.
Burger recently made the tough decision of moving out of their office space altogether.
“This is a move to cut some overhead,” said Burger. “In the past, we’ve cut staff through attrition mostly, but as we looked at the differences between being the red and being in the black, this lease and the utilities that go with it represent a pretty fair amount of overhead.”
The paper will still live on, as staff will shift to working remotely, as many industries have done during the pandemic.
The past few years have seen the staff reduced to just three people and their issues cut nearly in half, down to only 12 pages. The latest move, Burger says, was largely an effect of the pandemic.
“A lot of times when small businesses are hurting, the first thing they look to do is cut expenses, and sometimes advertising is often that first expense they look to cut,” said Burger. “So that’s been a real challenge for us, is looking for ways to offset that lost advertising revenue or figuring out how to adapt.”
Burger says fewer people buying their $1 papers, or subscribing online, has hurt. But, even with the struggles at hand, their dedication to their craft won’t stop.
“It’s always nice to get a word of encouragement, and those are becoming fewer are more far between just in the climate that we’re in, just in the way that people view journalists in our community and in our country,” said Burger. “We’re still going to be out and about in our community. Going out and finding stories. That’s what we do.”
Burger says their goal is to provide updates and news stories about Christian County for its residents in a time where knowing what is happening in your community is as important as ever.